Research Paper on Psychopathy and Crimes

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1799 Words
Date:  2022-08-12


Psychopathy can be described as the neuropsychiatric disorder that brings about deficiencies in emotional responses, and some other effects such as empathy and some other poor behavioral controls. The behaviors result in persistent antisocial deviance and criminal behaviors. Research puts it that psychopathy has been followed by some developmental trajectory which come as a result of genetic influences; also, it is heightened by the deleterious effects that are widely spread out through functional networks that are particularly in the brain.

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There are varied reasons as to why crimes are committed in the United States each passing day. One's conscious decisions commit crimes while others are done due to some explanations in biology that is the criminal may not be conscious of, or the criminal may be aware of but chooses to ignore cure that may be present. In the write-up, there will be some examples that will be analyzed and discussed regarding genetic and physiological evidence which points out to the perspective that biology plays a key role in describing their criminality. The examples that are going to be used in the writing of the paper are Andrea Yates. Described as a woman with a lot of documented psychological issues and postpartum depression and were taken to court for having taken the lives of her five children. Charles Whitman who was a former marine sniper broke out into a killing spree and later found out to contain a post-mortem, and lastly, John Hinckley Jr. was a man who had psychiatric issues and had a case of having shot President Ronald Regan (Spinelli, 2018).

Andrea Yates was given birth in the year 1964, in Huston Texas. In her earlier years, she was perceived as a quiet, shy and very intelligent girl. She was a valedictorian in her High school in Milby from where she graduated, that was in the year 1982. She, later on, joined University of Texas Health Science Center, where she managed to pass and became a satified nurse. Andrea Yates later on in life in the year 2001 June drowned her five children in her home bathtub. Through her years she had been suffering from severe postpartum depression and also the postpartum psychosis. The case below indicates Yates behavior before and after she had taken the lives of her five children (Weese, 2016).

Andrea Yates Behavior Before and After the Act

In 2001, Andrea Yates took the lives of her five children by drowning them in a bathtub in her home. She was suffering for very many years, from a depression caused by postpartum and postpartum psychosis. She was arraigned in court and tried under M' Naghten Rules, which comprises legal rules for sanity. When she had her fourth son, that is when she started having a downward spiral, that is, she tried her first suicide attempt in 1999. She was taken to the hospital and was treated with some anti-depressants for her postpartum and then got released. After she was out of hospital she dropped taking her medication and adopted self-mutilation, she neglected her children and could not even feed them; she started hallucinating and even saw people on the television as talking to her. For instance, in her own words "she said that the children should stop eating candy." Rusty her husband took her once more to the hospital in July 1999 for a week and three days that was after she put up a show of taking a knife putting it to her neck and asking her husband to take her life. On Arriving in hospital, she was in a catatonic state. Dr. Eileen Starbranch prescribed Haldol, described as an antipsychotic drug. In the course of taking her Haldol medication: she began to improve (Denno, 2017).

Andrea was then discharged from the hospital; the psychiatric recommended that she does not get more children, due to her current suicide attempts and her history of postpartum diagnosis depression. The physician advised her that if she were to get another child, then she would undergo a relapse. In spite of her doctor's advice, Andrea became pregnant once more and even gave birth to a girl that was in the year 2000 November. Andrea tried her best to balance stress in her life, but things turned out sour when her father passed on in March of 2001 when she started to spiral out of control again. She went ahead and spoke to her psychiatrist, who stated that he believes that Andrea was not in her psychotic state, went ahead to say that he thinks that Andrea had too much stress and advised her to try and be positive. She was then admitted to the hospital and was discharged ten days later that was in 2001 with claims that she was faring on well, and she believed that had to manage her stress well. At this time she had gone mute and was self-mutilating, she had neglected to feed her kids, and turned to read her bible non-stop; in 2001 she practically drowned all her children (Slobogin, 2018).

After committing the crime, Andrea remained composed but in the same catatonic state. She did not even show any signs of regret or emotions toward what she had done. She said that she is not a good mother and also said that her children were not any better and lastly she claimed that the children were not growing correctly. Even today, Andrea has remained neglectful of herself and has been seen often by her physicians, for not eating and not taking good care of her own body.

Evidence of Biological Effects

Andrea Yates who was a former nurse, but her postnatal mental sickness pushed her to take the life of five of her children. She was earlier on a joyful mother, and was a very joyful woman and her children brought about happiness to her. As the years passed on, Andrea Yates had begun suffering from severe psychiatric events, which included postpartum depression that exists before she took the lives of her children. Therefore, the feeling of joy and happiness begun to fade away, the feelings were now replaced with anger, guiltiness, hate, and loneliness. Elissa Seta purported that in June 2001, Andrea had been overcome by the feelings mentioned above that led her to commit the crime of taking the lives of her children. Though the events were really disturbing and shocked a lot of people, many women stood with Yates especially mothers who were very sympathetic and understanding (Place, Billings, Frongillo, Blake, & Mann, 2016).

Biology is a major player in the case of Andrea Yates. Even though Andrea Yates did not know of this, her immediate family must have had a history of mental illness. Her sibling, who was her brother had been diagnosed with bipolar, and some of her other family members had also suffered from depression. Andrea Yates had been declared to be postpartum depression positive sooner after she had given birth to her firstborn child. The sickness advanced drastically through the years as she gave birth to more children. The psychiatrist advised her that she should not try and have more children but fell on her deaf ears. It is very likely that Andrea Yates had developed the symptoms due to the history of the disease in her family, which explains why she had mental disorders. Neuroplasticity is one of the biological explanations that might be able to describe and explain the reasons behind Andrea Yates committing such heinous crimes. Neuroplasticity can be defined as the process by which the brain alters its structure and some other functions when responding to the experience essential modifications in a person's life that are when undergoing new experiences. The following experience can be undergone when the brain undergoes a traumatic experience, which is like childbirth. It is apparent that Andrea Yates was constantly giving birth to children, before she then took their lives (Wood, Trescher, S. A., Miller & McDermott, 2018).


There are some reasons both psychological and biological that are behind the heinous crimes that Andrea Yates committed by murdering her five innocent children. People may not understand the biological and psychological reasons behind the committing of such crimes, but studies have gone overboard in trying to explain the reasons behind. Andrea Yates conviction was later on changed since it was understood that she was satified to be insane. If people understood the biological and psychological factors behind the committing of such acts, it would be prevented in the near future occurrences. If people such as criminologists could better understand people like Andrea Yates, they could better assist them from committing such crimes or else try and find the root course, caused by the committing of such crimes. People can also assist by finding people with biological as well as psychological problems such as those that Andrea Yates was suffering from, and then a preventative action would be taken so that such people are free from committing crimes.

If psychiatrists would have taken the situation as serious and admitted her to the hospital since she had, had the same outcomes once she went out of hospital would have prevented committing the crimes. Once the husband had noted the effects of her wife's sickness at the time when she gave him a knife and asked her to take her life, he would have taken the situations seriously. The sickness had presumed for quite a while, and the result was near, hence serious action would have been taken before it got worse. Andrea Yates had even stopped talking, a lot of indicators, and red flags had been raised to be ignored. Rusty would have made sure that there was a third party and made sure that he is certain that she takes medication at the prescribed times. Biological and psychological explanations have proven to be correct regarding the case which has been covered. It is up to the people to always make sure that are taking things seriously especially when they point out to be very serious such as the one for Andrea Yates.


Denno, D. W. (2017). Andrea Yates: A Continuing Story About Insanity.

Place, J. M. S., Billings, D. L., Frongillo, E. A., Blake, C. E., & Mann, J. R. (2016). Policy for the promotion of women's mental health: Insight from analysis of policy on postnatal depression in Mexico. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 43(2), 189-198.

Slobogin, C. (2018). Introduction to this Special Issue: The characteristics of insanity and the insanity evaluation process. Behavioral sciences & the law, 36(3), 271-275.

Spinelli, M. (2018). Infanticide and American criminal justice (1980-2018). Archives of women's mental health, 1-5.

Weese, T. (2016). Can we forgive Andrea Yates?. Res Cogitans, 7(1), 90-100.

Wood, E. F., Trescher, S. A., Miller, M. K., & McDermott, C. M. (2018). Individual Differences Relate to Support for Insanity and Postpartum Depression Legal Defenses: The Mediating Role of Moral Disengagement. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 25(2), 219-236.

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